Voice search is making a quick move into the lives of mainstream customers. Smartphones now come with voice-activated digital assistants, in-house technology like your TV may already have voice functionality and in-home digital assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google home are already shipping to customers around the world.
According to research from VoiceLabs, an estimated 24.5 million devices will be shipped in 2017 alone, resulting in 33 million voice-first devices currently in use. That just counts voice-first digital assistants, which means the true number of voice search touchpoints — counting smartphones and other devices — is much higher.
Consequently, voice search will make up 50% of all searches by 2020 according to comScore. The implication for marketers is hard to overestimate. While voice queries offer untapped opportunities for ambitious marketers, they also require an overhaul of marketing activities, starting with how your business handles its SEO.
Accounting for Natural Language
If customers are phrasing their queries using their natural speaking language, it's going to change the keywords used to reach that audience. Search Engine Journal noted that this might spur a shift away from short-tail keyword targeting and increase the need for long-tail keyword strategies.
But before you can start adjusting your long-tail strategy, think about the questions your customers are asking and how questions are phrased. Incorporate this language in your content. Also, be aware that as the body of voice queries grows, search terms may shift and change your SEO best practices.
Short-tail keyword targeting will still have value, especially when the share of voice queries remains small. But as voice search gains popularity, it'll require a larger share of your SEO attention.
The Evolving Role of Location
Voice queries could have interesting implications for local marketers, too. TheNextWeb noted that while location plays a role in roughly 80 percent of overall search queries, this percent share is even greater when it comes to voice search. If this trend maintains itself through the growth of voice-based searches into the mainstream, it could unlock new opportunities for marketing through localized content.
Location has already become a critical data point for mobile, where voice search is already enabled on many devices. Local voice queries could prompt marketers to change how both their SEO and SEM strategies account for location as a layer of query context. This is all dependent on how much customer voice queries require location to be taken into account, but early indications are that localized content, a local keyword strategy, optimized business listings and the installation of proper location extensions will come in handy as voice search maintains its upward growth.
As more voice-first devices enter the customer marketplace, keep a close eye on your SEO and update keyword research regularly to stay ahead of the curve.